Social interactions can generate sexual selection on brains and behavior

Suzanne Alonzo (University of California, Santa Cruz)

June 18, 2019, 12:45–13:45


Room MS 001

IAST Lunch Seminar


Though sexual selection has been debated since first proposed by Darwin, we now know that sexual selection is an important evolutionary force, driving the evolution of striking traits that can appear not only beautiful, but also counter-intuitive and even ridiculous. Researchers in the field have generated extensive theory and gathered large amounts of data across diverse organisms, aimed at understanding the prevalence and dynamics of sexual selection. Yet many open questions and unexplained patterns remain. In this talk, I will discuss some surprising things we have learned about sexual selection from over two decades of research on a marine fish, the ocellated wrasse (Symphodus ocellatus). I will first review the patterns of female mate choice, male competition and social interactions found in this species. I will then briefly present some general evolutionary theory, inspired by these empirical observations, which aims to understand how social plasticity affects the evolution of traits. Finally, I explore what these unexpected but understandable patterns suggest about the dynamics of and traits favoured by sexual selection in this species and beyond.